Peer-to-peer mentors aid students in Career Services
By Beth Hatcher
Assistant Director of Career Services Jenn Sipe wants you to know that it’s OK if you don’t have it all together.
Because she didn’t.
Job-search pressure got her so anxious that she was applying to anything and everything as her graduation loomed. That was years ago and at a different university, but she knows the challenges students face at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media are much the same.
She knows that sometimes the best person to walk a student through the unknown, intimidating process of finding a job or internship is someone going through it too.
This semester, Career Services welcomes three new students to its Career Peers program, an initiative launched last year in which the students work with the Career Services team to support other undergraduate students during the job and internship search process.
Career Peers will provide support from editing resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles to offering interview tips and informal chats about students’ concerns and their own experiences and insights. The Career Peers will also assist in programming various student-focused events such as Meet the Pros and a student-to-student internship fair.
Sipe and Career Services Director Jay Eubank will still provide their usual appointments and services. But the Career Peers program gives undergraduates an opportunity to talk to fellow students who have recently been through the internship and job search process.
“It makes Career Services a less intimidating atmosphere when students can come in and talk to one of the Career Peers,” said Sipe, who remembers feeling completely overwhelmed by the job search process as a student at her Virginia college. “Searching for jobs and internships can be daunting. There are a lot of unknowns. Students might feel more comfortable asking questions of the Career Peers that they wouldn’t ask of staff. We’re so excited to have the Career Peers as part of our team again this year.”
Meet the 2021-22 Career Peers
The advertising and public relations student wants other students to have the same positive Career Services experience she did. She credits the Career Services team’s resume and cover letter input with helping her land her a marketing internship at Cisco during summer 2020.
The confidence boost the team provided in her networking skills proved essential in her internship hunt and she’s excited to pay the mentorship forward.
She learned so much from her internship — not only about the process of finding work but figuring out what type of work she enjoys. Her internship at Cisco revolved around cybersecurity and she loved it. Besides the perks of tech communication, she’s happy to offer any advice.
“It’s a lot easier to ask a peer a very candid question and there’s a lot of logistical questions about finding jobs and internships that students don’t know — I didn’t,” Bradley said.
“I wanted to be a Career Peer because I witnessed firsthand the power of networking and having a strong professional support system last year,” said Parker, who set a goal during summer 2020 to create a LinkedIn account and reach out to Hussman alumni.
“In the same way that UNC alumni provided me insight, advice, and opportunities during my conversations with them, I want to offer my experiences and suggestions to my peers here at Hussman,” Parker said.
After graduation, the advertising and public relations student wants to work in brand management, social media marketing or community outreach. She took part in Career Services’ virtual Atlanta Career Trek last spring and is excited to work with Career Services this year as a Career Peer.
“Professional development can be intimidating, especially if you are new to the topic, but as Hussman Career Peers, we're here to share our own experiences, answer questions and offer support in a more informal and chill setting. We've been through the process and we're more than excited to lend a hand!” Parker said.
All Sohmer’s friends and roommates already ask her to look over their resumes and cover letters anyway, so why not be a Career Peer and help even more people?
“Someone may be more comfortable talking to a Career Peer rather than a staff member if they want advice that they can really relate to. People can come to us about our recent internship experiences, or the steps we are taking right now to ensure full-time offers for after graduation,” said Sohmer, an advertising and public relations student who hopes to land a job working with data analysis or creative strategy after graduation.
“Career services has helped me tremendously throughout my recruiting process. They've tweaked my resume and helped me learn tricks to find alumni to reach out to through networking,” Sohmer said. “I've found so many connections and potential employers through those and learned more about what I want out of my professional career in general.”
The Career Peers are kicking off the program with a resume round-up. Students can email their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to be reviewed and critiqued by a career peer. A Career Peer will then follow-up individually with the student to schedule an appointment to go over their resume.